Ask Cavers: How Does your Group Attract New Cavers?

February 13, 2013
A Wild Cave Tour at Mammoth Cave National Park.

A Wild Cave Tour at Mammoth Cave National Park. Photo by Vickie Carson/NPS

It’s sometimes hard to get new folks to come caving, let alone convince them that it can be a fun, exciting and thoroughly enjoyable experience.

In contrast, there are some folks who jump at the opportunity to go caving. But how to find them?

We recently wrote about the Speleological Union of Ireland‘s upcoming Try Caving weekend which offers a free introduction to caving in hopes of finding new cavers.

For this week’s ask cavers question, we want to find out what other strategies your groups employ to attract new cavers and which of them works best.

Share your thoughts and comments in the discussion below.

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Comments (8)

  1. Elithecavedob
    February 15, 2013 at 10:05 am

    I think people who attracted to caves will eventually find their way to organized caving. Not sure we want the others.

    • Caving News
      February 15, 2013 at 11:06 am

      Good point, but maybe some potential cavers don’t even know organized caving exists?

  2. February 17, 2013 at 5:22 am

    With a promise of Nekked dancing girls, beer and partying – failing that a cosh.

    To be serious, our newer members mainly come from the university caving clubs, who stay and cave with us and realise what a fun bunch we are!

    • Caving News
      February 17, 2013 at 2:54 pm

      Perhaps we should be asking how the university caving clubs get their members then? 🙂

  3. February 18, 2013 at 10:25 am

    The university caving clubs get their members in the first weeks of the new academic year at their “freshers fair”.

    More info here: http://checc.org/

  4. Crustyface
    February 18, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    There’ll always be a tiny number of ‘natural cavers’ who have some perverse fascination with being underground, but to be perfectly honest even these guys wouldn’t go caving as frequently, or bother to organise a social side to their club, if it wasn’t for the other people who get involved. Caving is much improved by the sheer variety of nutters who coagulate around the sport.

    At my University club, we always used to push the fact that we had cheaper membership costs and trip fees than the University mountaineering club, in a bid to get the more outdoorsy athletic types, but this seems to be getting less persuasive in recent years (so much debt anyway, students aren’t as bothered by cost).

    Photos and posters are always good at attracting interest. The best ones are those with a massive smile in the foreground.

    Once you’ve persuaded the poor sods to follow you underground, it’s terribly important to judge their ability, and take them on a trip that will stretch, but not break them. The ideal first trip has plenty of mud, some water, some big chambers, some wriggling, at least one pretty and a ‘total darkness’ moment, and will leave them tired enough to really appreciate a pint afterwards. If you hit all those buttons, there’ll be at least one aspect of the sport that they like enough to try it a second time, and in time they’ll like all of it.

    Beer, cake, parties and a lassez-faire attitude to personal hygiene encourage people to stick around long enough to turn that ‘like’ into ‘love’.

    • Caving News
      February 18, 2013 at 1:23 pm

      Nicely put.

  5. ScreaminJay
    February 21, 2013 at 5:41 am

    Our caving club organizes a yearly “Introduction to Speleology” course, which, for an extremely reasonable fee, offers people a series of lectures on some basic topics as they apply to caving (geology, biology, etc.); said course also involves a full day of vertical training and finally a day trip to a non-touristic cave.

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